Brand guidelines and why they’re important

Brand guidelines

Many of us are mortified when we see pictures of our teenage selves. Weird clothes, strange haircuts, outrageous looks; it’s all part of the process of figuring out who we are.

Your business doesn’t have the luxury of going through an awkward phase as it tries to figure out who it’s going to be. You can make small changes as you evolve to meet market needs but, generally, it’s important to understand who your company is and who your customers are, as well as who your customers expect you to be.

What is a brand?

Branding refers to how your business is positioned in the marketplace and how people perceive it. Perception is the key; it doesn’t matter how you see your brand. It only matters how your target audience sees it.

Your brand isn’t your logo any more than you are the clothes you wear. However, people can infer certain things about you from the clothes you wear, just as they can infer things about your brand from your logo.

So, your brand is the sum total of all the elements that people see when they interact with it. This includes logos, colours, images, and messaging. Together, these things create a picture that tells people how they should perceive your brand.

Why is branding important?

Branding is absolutely crucial to a company’s ability to compete. Given customers are generally spoiled for choice, if brands don’t stand out from each other, they’ll generally choose the cheaper one and the more convenient one.

So you need to decide how you want to stand out, what you want customers to think about when they see your brand, and how you’ll communicate your uniqueness to the market.

This is a huge undertaking that can benefit significantly from advice and assistance from a branding agency.

Once you’ve got your brand in place, the next question is an important one.

How can you keep your brand consistent?

When your customers are interacting with your brand, you need to make sure they know exactly who they’re dealing with. You don’t want any confusion to creep in. But, if you constantly use different colours, fonts, tone of voice, and logos, for example, your customers will be confused.

To avoid this, you need to keep your brand consistent. The way to do this is to apply brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines or a brand identity/style guide includes information on how your brand needs to be presented. At a minimum it should include:

  • Logo: your logo will be one of the nine types (more info here https://www.tailorbrands.com/logo-maker/types-of-logos) e.g. lettermark, pictorial mark, abstract or dynamic. You should also include information on how to use a logo such as minimum or maximum size the logo should appear, or different versions for print and screen for example.
  • Colours: the colours you use in your brand include your main colour, a secondary palate (could be up to five or more) and supporting colours.
  • Typography: you need to choose a font that can be used companywide, including an alternative for web/digital applications such as PowerPoint. It’s important to allow for the users who do not have access to the correct font to still work within the guidelines.

Other guidance, depending on your needs, can include:

  • Stationery: business card and letterheads (often specifying the materials and print type used)
  • Image treatment and/or style: this includes defining the style of imagery and whether any kind of treatment needs to be applied with directions such as black and white, monochrome, high-contrast, neutral etc.
  • Clothing/uniforms: set out the colour, clothing style, and logo placement on uniforms.
  • Tone of voice: this sets guidelines for the type of language to be used to convey the brand’s voice, such as friendly, funny, formal, informative, etc.

Some organisations can have so many guidelines around their brand that it makes sense to split them into separate guides such as a digital style guide, a social media style guide, a marketing style guide, and so on.

What should you do with your style guide(s)?

Once you have your style guide ready to go, make sure you disseminate it far and wide. Every person in the organisation should know exactly how they need to present the brand, down to the rules around resizing logos or using specific fonts. The whole point of creating these documents is to create consistency, which develops trust. Therefore, there is zero benefit to limiting access to the style guide.

Distribute it far and wide. Demand compliance from all staff members. Help them comply by showing them how to translate your brand identity into assets they can use in the course of doing business.

How much does it cost?

Your brand guidelines could cost practically nothing or you could pay millions. Telstra was said to have paid more than $3 million for its new brand guidelines. Of course, the vast majority of companies wouldn’t need to spend anywhere near $3 million for brand guidelines. In most cases, you could get a comprehensive set of brand guidelines for a tiny fraction of that.

We develop brand guidelines for companies every day. To find out more, contact us today.